BENGALURU: Sustainability and use of organic materials is the need of the hour, C Shekar, a weaver from Anakaputhur, Tamil Nadu, said at a talk held in the city on Tuesday. Shekar has been making waves in the handloom industry with eco-friendly weaves extracted from natural fibres. He and his son, Mahendra, were present at A Handloom Voyage, hosted by the Vimor Handloom Foundation at Bangalore International Center on Tuesday. The two stressed on creating a sense of self-worth and self-confidence among weavers, along with the need to view handlooms as a profession that is beneficial.
Shekar is a third-generation weaver who started at the age of 13 with an idea of creating his mark in the industry. The idea came to life when he realised the possibility of using the fibre extracted from banana stems for weaving. Over the years, he has extracted fibres from 25 plants, including banana, bamboo, jute, aloe vera, hemp, Irikunjali, flaxseed, coconut, and gongura (Sorrel leaves).
Calling these extracts the future of weaving in the handloom industry at a time when hand-made products are losing out to machines, Shekar said, “Our process involves converting raw fibre which was done physically until we have received assistance from students of IIT-Chennai. I have a vision of presenting this eco-friendly and sustainable model across the globe. There is something similar happening in the Philippines and we should get ahead of them.”
Shekar, who gained an entry into Limca Book of Records for weaving a sari out of 25 natural fibres, expressed his disappointment over the lack of support offered by the government. “The handloom community at Anakaputhur lost a great deal during the floods in 2015, and my fibre was also washed away. The government didn’t compensate us for it, and if such a situation continues, how can one expect the handloom industry to grow? We require schemes to be implemented,” he said.
Speaking about his future projects, Shekar said, “I plan to come up with fabric from herbal extracts, which are skin-friendly, in January 2020.”